Several small farmers in the Valley of Peace have lost a significant amount of their crops. According to them the blame lies solely on those at the Valley of Peace Farms. Cayo Correspondent Fem Cruz has the story.
Fem Cruz, Cayo Correspondent: The Valley of Peace Farmers Association is complaining that some of their crops were destroyed. They are claiming that Mr.Gilbert Canton ,the manager of the Valley of Peace Farm, flew a plane over to do some crop spraying and as a result caused damages to some of their crops. Love News spoke to Ever Blandon from the Valley of Peace Farmers Association who explained more.
Ever Blandon, Valley of Peace Farmers Association: “Last week Friday we saw an aircraft flying over farmers’ crops and it was Valley of Peace Farms who was spraying their crops. The farmers were complaining about crop damages which was left burning cucumbers and lettuce and this is not the first time that these farmers are saying that we have seen in the past that when they fly the airplane close to the farmers they get burned and we asked the ministry to take action on this which controls the spraying of crops. So to me I think these farmers are being a little bit abandoned there but I think the government and I asked the minister to take action. The ministry will visit the area on Tuesday and they were today but no result upon that as always they lost the evidence and so the poor farmers are being left abandoned.
Fem Cruz, Cayo Correspondent: Hector Gomez, one of the farmers affected, also spoke to Love News.
Hector Gomez, Farmer: “We were badly affected by the aircraft spraying that occurred last week. Hereby we would like to make a concern, more than likely to Ministry of Agriculture to address the Valley of Peace Farms company for them to stop spraying too much chemicals that would affect our crops at our area of our farmers. We would also like to get all the assistance and support from the ministry.”
Love News understands that the officials from the Ministry of Agriculture were in the area conducting an assessment. Responding to the farmers’ statement was the Manager of the Valley of Peace Farms, Gilbert Canton Junior.
Gilbert Canton Junior, Manager, Valley of Peace Farms: “Just in general we adhered to best agricultural practices especially when it comes to spraying. Spraying is an evolution that is quite advanced and it requires quite a bit of coordination and planning to execute so when it comes to that we’re very cautious, we try to minimize the number of sprays that we do by air because it’s costly and so what we do is when we’re going to spray a field we plan out the spray and we take the wind direction and we put the chemicals that we’re going to put down and we make sure that it’s going to be something that is done in a very professional manner. So adhering to these best practices usually minimizes any sort of chance of having damage to the surrounding farms that’s what we do. In this particular instance we sprayed a field the closest point to the farmers that are currently complaining is 1.5 miles away, north east of them and we had a westerly wind so the chances of actually having crop damage to them was very minimal and we always are very careful about how we do this. The other point is that there are very specific signs if you have crop damage from a spray. I’ll give you an example if you have crop damage from a spray it won’t just pick out one or two crops to damage it will damage everything in your field and in this case only certain crops were damaged there so from our experience we don’t think it’s very likely that the report that will come out of Ministry of Agriculture will have anything that says that we’ve caused any crop damage given the distance, the wind direction and the symptoms that were shown. Further I would invite you to talk to other farmers in the area who have experienced similar issues to these guys based on weather conditions including farmers as far away as Armenia. So as far as we can tell what they’re suffering from is a weather related issue, maybe a fungus or something along those lines. But again in having good social corporate responsibility one of the things I would like to say is that if the Ministry of Agriculture comes out and says that we did cause damage and we agree with their findings and it’s sound and it makes sense then of course we will pay for damages that we have caused but I don’t think that will be the case.”